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Trombone Champ Review

Trombone Champ Review

Learning a musical instrument can take years of practice and dedication. Countless lessons in both musical theory and technique is the harsh reality for most musicians, with never-ending doses of Imposter Syndrome setting in for several, and constant feelings of rejection also rearing their ugly heads in the minds of others. The harsh reality is that despite how fulfilling and beautiful it is to reach a level where you can produce beautiful music, there is a darker side that could cloud over you at any time. But who cares about all that nonsense, I’m just going to play Trombone Champ at full volume and send my neighbours spiralling into yet another night of off-key and out-of-time brass hell.

After a string of independent typing games, Trombone Champ is the first major hit for developer Holy Wow. Social media has been going rabid with viral posts about the game, and it’s for good reason too; Trombone Champ isn’t afraid to ask the difficult questions in life, like “What if you played trombone as the lead for a number of classic public-domain compositions?”

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I'm trying my hardest, there's no need to be mean.

I have to say that I’m slightly disappointed that there’s no official trombone peripheral for this game. Maybe the technology isn’t quite there yet, or maybe Holy Wow realised that it was getting dangerously close to playing God and decided against it entirely. That being said, you control the trombone slider with your mouse, pulling it downwards to lift the guide dot, and pushing it upwards to lower it. At the same time you have to either click, or press any of the keys on your keyboard to actually blow into the trombone. Your goal is to blow along to the notes that rush across your screen whilst ensuring the guide dot is following them. Sounds easy, right? That’s what I thought.

The charm of Trombone Champ isn’t restricted to just the layers of irony and sarcasm that it’s steeped in, nor is it restricted to the more outward (successful) attempts of humour. The charm and enjoyment of Trombone Champ come from how much of a challenge it is to actually do well in it. The easier songs will lull you into a false sense of security, and before you know it, you’ll be loading up the William Tell Overture with full confidence, only to produce a constant stream of out-of-tune toots. The more difficult songs had twice the effect on me, as I’d do badly and start to laugh at how badly I was doing, combined with the hilarious effect of the off-key trombone, which in turn made me perform even worse. I did eventually get the hang of it though, and whilst I’m still no real champ at tromboning, I’ve managed to progress in the game.

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Full English brekky and ear-destroying renditions of patriotic guff: the true British experience.

Progression in Trombone Champ is slightly emergent in nature. You go into it thinking “haha funny trombone”, but as you play more songs and acquire Toots, the game opens up more. With Toots you can purchase Sacks of collectable cards, and from here you can scrap duplicates into Turds which can be used for building cards you don’t have. I don’t want to give too much of the game away here, as there are some deep surprises awaiting only the most trombony of tromboners. Trombone Champ may seem one-dimensional at first glance, and its scope may seem restrictive, but Holy Wow has really tried to push the boat out with all the extra hidden aspects. Ultimately though, Trombone Champ at its core is just a rhythm game, but that’s not exactly a bad thing.

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I've always been a great appreciator of Debussy. I also like the classical composer too.

The game is just fun to play. I would finish a song and think to myself “okay, time to start on this review”, and mindlessly click onto the track selection screen, and pick a new song to play. Repeat ad infinitum. There’s a decent selection of about 25 tracks, with a few of them that need to be unlocked through gameplay, consisting of a mix of mostly well-known public domain compositions, as well as a few original songs made for the game. The production of the songs is great, with some of them tapping into the vibe of old Dance Dance Revolution tracks, and the actual trombone sound manages to dance along the fine line between being hilariously annoying and sounding great. I guess it really depends on how well you’re performing the song, with the off-key wobbles of a misplaced note that sound like a drunk trombonist being part of the experience.

The weakest aspect of Trombone Champ has got to be the visuals, although the graphics work well for what the game is. You have a few options for your trombonist avatar, as well as variations in colour and type of trombone, with more options that can be unlocked. Your character will look like an off-brand Mii no matter what though. The visuals presented during each song aren’t particularly fancy by any means, mostly just panning shots of still images. This doesn’t stop them from having their own charm though, such as when the background during Stars and Stripes erupts into fireworks, and the picture shifts to burgers and french fries.

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The baboon is watching you toot your trombone. It refuses to elaborate.

Trombone Champ is likely to keep you entertained for longer than you’d expect it to with its combination of entertaining gameplay and a subtle, yet satisfying, progression system. The sarcasm and comedic stylings might not be to everyone’s taste, and it’s not likely that those aspects would be enough to keep someone reeled in if they’re not really feeling the gameplay, meaning that Trombone Champ is going to be a love it or hate it title for most people. Luckily for me, I love it.

8.00/10 8

Trombone Champ (Reviewed on Windows)

This game is great, with minimal or no negatives.

Though slightly held back by its visual presentation and potentially polarising humour, Trombone Champ is a respectable rhythm game with enjoyable gameplay that fans of the genre are bound to enjoy.

This game was supplied by the publisher or relevant PR company for the purposes of review
Pezh J.

Pezh J.

Staff Writer

Making money but the bank won't believe me

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